Agriculture of the Middle Participation in State Branding Campaigns: The Case of Kentucky


  • Alicia M. Hullinger University of Kentucky
  • Keiko Tanaka University of Kentucky



State Branding Program, Impact Analysis, Agriculture Of The Middle (AOTM)


In the past decade, statewide agricultural branding campaigns have blossomed. Examining the case of the Kentucky Proud™ (KyP) program, this paper investigates the potential benefit of a state-level marketing strategy for the declining class of midsize farms, referred to as Agriculture of the Middle (AOTM). First, we discuss why AOTM farms are important to maintaining a viable agriculture structure. Second, we introduce the context of state branding and explain how KyP developed as part of the transition from highly tobacco-dependent agriculture. Using recent agricultural census data and a survey of KyP members, we compare the key characteristics between three sets of pairs: (a) U.S. AOTM farmers and Kentucky AOTM farmers, (b) Kentucky AOTM farmers and KyP-member AOTM farmers, and (c) KyP AOTM farmers and other KyP-member farmers. The findings indicate that Kentucky's AOTM farmers are unique compared to U.S. AOTM farmers, and that the KyP program benefits particularly those AOTM farmers transitioning from tobacco-dependent agriculture. We also found that the logo of the state branding campaign helps member farmers differentiate their products, and that the program helps most members gain knowledge and skills for marketing their products. Overall, findings suggest that state branding campaigns designed to incentivize agricultural marketing of local foods have the potential to help farmers of the middle. Further research needs to be done in order to track the long-term impact of different agricultural branding campaigns.

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Author Biographies

Alicia M. Hullinger, University of Kentucky

Department of Sociology, University of Kentucky; 1515 Patterson Office Tower; Lexington, Kentucky 40506-0027 USA.

Keiko Tanaka, University of Kentucky

Department of Community & Leadership Development, University of Kentucky; 500 Garrigus Building; Lexington, Kentucky 40546-0215 USA.



How to Cite

Hullinger, A. M., & Tanaka, K. (2015). Agriculture of the Middle Participation in State Branding Campaigns: The Case of Kentucky. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 6(1), 107–120.



Open Call Paper